Congress minister Navjot Singh Sidhu is known for wit and plainspeak. He was one of the star campaigners for his party in the last year’s assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan. Known for not conforming the idea of political correctness, Sidhu also courted controversies on several occasions last year, when he decided to travel to Pakistan to attend the swearing in ceremony of Imran Khan as Pakistan’s Prime Minister.
While in Pakistan, the photo of Sidhu hugging Pakistani army chief General Qamar Bajwa had gone viral with his political rival, the BJP lashing out at him for hugging an enemy general. Sidhu also became a favourite whipping boy of the right-wing brigade in India after a suicide bomber blew himself in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama by killing 45 CRPF soldiers.
He became a target of the Hindutva gang after he said that that it was not proper to blame Pakistan as a whole for ‘a handful of people.’ BJP’s IT Cell launched a concerted campaign on Twitter by launching hashtags #BoycottSidhu and #BoycottSonyTV, prompting Sony TV to drop the cricketer-turned-politician from its popualr show The Kapil Sharma Show.
The cricketer once again dominated the conversation on Sunday after India TV founder Rajat Sharma posted a video of Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, who was heard blaming Sidhu’s hug with General Bajwa as one of the reasons for the Pulwama terror attack.
She was heard in the video as saying, “Sidhu is very famous in India. He has a large following. He goes and hug an enemy General. Will that cause impact or not?”
“Navjot Sidhu @sherryontopp is famous in India. उनकी बहुत following है. वो जाकर गले लगा रहे हैं हमारे दुश्मन के Army Chief को. Impact आएगा कि नहीं आएगा ?” – Defence Minister @nsitharaman in #AapKiAdalat
— Rajat Sharma (@RajatSharmaLive) February 17, 2019
To add to Sitharaman’s attack on Sidhu, Sharma said, “This is the habit of his party. Rahul (Gandhi) too went and hugged (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi.”
Reacting to Sharma’s tweet, Sidhu posted photos of Modi’s own hug with former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Ajit Doval facilitating the release of Masood Azhar, the head of Pakistan-based terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed. The suicide bomber, who caused the carnage on Thursday in Pulwama belonged to Jaish-e-Mohammed.
Sidhu wrote sarcastically, “Iska impact ayega ki nahi? (Will this cause impact or not?)”
Iska impact ayega ki nahi? pic.twitter.com/H3ObSEqOtr
— Navjot Singh Sidhu (@sherryontopp) February 18, 2019
Masood Azhar, who was lodged in an Indian jail, was freed in 1999 by the then BJP government led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee after terrorists hijacked Indian Airlines plane and took it to Kandahar in Afghanistan. The then Foreign Minister and Doval had escorted Azhar by facilitating his release in exchange of the Indian passengers on-board IC-814.